Ipoh (Malaysia): India yet again paid the price of some sloppy defending and conceded a late goal to lose 2-3 to lower-ranked Malaysia and crash out of the title race of the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here today.
As has been the story in this tournament for India, the Sardar Singh-led side wasted numerous scoring opportunities and their fragile backline broke down under pressure at crucial junctures. India conceded a goal with two minutes remaining in the match to lose the match.
Faizaal Saari (17th minute), Haziq Samsul (35th) and Shahrun Abdullah (58th) scored the goals to hand Malaysia their first win in the tournament after two consecutive defeats.
For India, Rupinder Pal Singh (20th, 51st) converted two penalty corners for India but it was not enough to give new chief coach Paul van Ass his first taste of victory.
With just one point from three games, India are out of the race for Sunday's final.India play lowly Canada tomorrow before facing world champions Australia on Saturday, while Malaysia will be up against Korea tomorrow.
The match began after almost an hours delay after heavy rains and lightening struck the stadium minutes before the scheduled start.
Compared to their first two games, the Indians did not have the best of starts as Malaysia fought stick to stick to give their opponents some tough time.
The initial few minutes of the match was a midfield slugfest as both the tams tried hard to take control of the proceedings. The Malaysians looked sharper and threatening and were the first to attempt on the goal but Faizal Saar's reverse hit in the fifth minute was just off the target.
In the 11th minute, Satbir Singh squandered a bright chance when he failed to capitalize on a pass by fumbling the opportunity inside the opposition circle.
Minutes later, V R Raghunath set it up for Akashdeep Singh with some brilliant stick work but the latter's reverse hit was kept out by an agile Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam, who is playing in his 250th international match.